- NDDC: N70bn Required to Complete East-west Road
The Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) has disclosed that the Commission and its supervising Ministry, the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, need over N70 billion to complete the East-west Road which straddles the six South-South States.
Speaking while receiving the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Uguru Usani Uguru, Ekere said: “The NDDC will partner with the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs and private sector investors on the construction of the East-West road. Over N70 billion is needed to complete the road. So, the strategy will be to harness private sector collaboration to complete the road. The portions that have totally collapsed will be addressed immediately.”
He lamented that the Eleme-Refinery junction section was in a very terrible state. “It is so bad that a 10-minute journey on that axis now takes three hours. That section of the road has failed and we will get contractors to the site immediately,” he said.
The NDDC Chief Executive Officer further stated that the construction of the remaining sections of the East-West Road would be handled by many contractors.
“Our strategy involves multiple contractors. The road, which is a strategic link to the oil and gas industry in Nigeria, connects Edo, Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Cross River states.”
According to Ekere, the Commission is embarking on a centralized e-project management scheme which would reduce waste and costs on project management. He added: “We are determined to improve on our project management capabilities. NDDC projects all over the Niger Delta will be managed from a central project management platform such that I can sit in my office at the headquarters and monitor projects all over the region. The essence of this is to ensure a robust project management portfolio and reduce waste and costs.
“We are determined to do things differently. We are determined to leave behind a new and improved NDDC. We are determined to reform our systems to help us reduce the incidents of abandoned projects,” Ekere said.
The minister, during the visit, ordered an investigation into the educational qualification of staff of the NDDC with the aim of exposing ghost workers and those working in the commission with forged certificates.
Uguru directed departmental heads in the commission to submit their nominal rolls to the Managing Director within one week.
Uguru said: “Directors of various departments in this Commission should submit the nominal roll of their respective departments to the Managing Director within one week. I don’t want to hear that we are on it because, I will ask for it immediately it is one week. If you are a departmental head and signs for a ghost worker, you will face it.
“We have observed that there are several people with forged certificates working in NDDC. Please, let us shun all the things that will give a bad image to the NDDC.”
While assuring the board and management of the NDDC that there won’t be political interference in the running of the commission, the Minister stated that the Buhari administration would carry out governance without partisanship.
He promised to stamp out any form of political interference in the running of the interventionist agency.
“We will stop political interference in the NDDC. Any political interference in the commission will be resisted. I assure you, political interference will no longer be an obstacle for the NDDC,” Usani said.
He commended the NDDC board and management for their efforts towards reforming the commission’s processes, and called on the staff to cooperate with the management during its audit exercise.
The minister said: “We must from this day, hasten our processes within the commission. There is no more room for partisanship.”
Usani noted that the audit that would be carried out in the NDDC was a presidential directive which must be complied with as soon as possible, warning that anyone who constituted an obstacle in the audit process would be shown the way out
“The ministry was buffeted with obstacles when it conducted its own audit. The staff of the Ministry tried to frustrate the process,” the minister said.
SERAP Urges FG to Slash Politicians’ Allowances
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged the Chairman of Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), Elias Mbam, to urgently review upward the remuneration, allowances, and conditions of service for Nigerian Judges, and reduce the remuneration of President Muhammadu Buhari and other political office-holders in order to address the persistent poor treatment of Judges, and improve access of victims of corruption to justice.
The appeal came on the heels of a nationwide industrial action by the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) to press home their demand for financial autonomy for the judicial arm of government, and the federal government silence on the judiciary workers’ strike that has grounded court activities across the country.
In a letter dated April 10, 2021, which was signed by SERAP Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said Judges should get all they are reasonably entitled to, and that it is unfair, illegal, unconstitutional, and discriminatory to continue to treat Judges as second-class people, while high-ranking political office holders enjoy lavish salaries and allowances.
SERAP expressed concern that the remuneration and allowances of Judges have fallen substantially behind the average salaries and allowances of political office-holders such as president, vice-president, governors and their deputies, as well as members of the National Assembly.
The letter read in part: “According to our information, the last review of the remuneration, allowances, and conditions of service for political, public and judicial office holders carried out by RMAFC in 2009 shows huge disparity between the remuneration and allowances of judges and those of political office holders.
“Judges’ work is very considerable but they cannot give their entire time to their judicial duties without the RMAFC reviewing upward their remuneration and allowances, and closing the gap and disparity between the salaries of judges and those of political office holders such as the president, vice-president, governors and their deputies, as well as lawmakers.
“We would therefore be grateful if the recommended measures are taken within 14 days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then, the Incorporated Trustees of SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions to compel the RMAFC to comply with our requests.”
COVAX Delivered 38m Vaccine Doses To Over 100 Countries, Says WHO
The World Health Organisation (WHO) yesterday announced that more than 100 countries have received life-saving COVID-19 vaccines from COVAX, the global mechanism for equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines.
It said the milestone comes 42 days after the first COVAX doses were shipped and delivered internationally, to Ghana on February 24th.
In a statement, the United Nations’ Agency revealed that COVAX has now delivered more than 38 million doses across six continents, supplied by three manufacturers – AstraZeneca, Pfizer-BioNTech and the Serum Institute of India (SII).
Of the over 100 economies reached, 61 are among the 92 lower-income economies receiving vaccines funded through the Gavi COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC).
It, however, said despite reduced supply availability in March and April – the result of vaccine manufacturers scaling and optimising their production processes in the early phase of the rollout, as well as increased demand for COVID-19 vaccines in India – COVAX expects to deliver doses to all participating economies that have requested vaccines in the first half of the year.
According to the CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, Dr. Seth Berkley, “In under four months since the very first mass vaccination outside a clinical setting anywhere in the world, it is tremendously gratifying that the roll-out of COVAX doses has already reached 100 countries.
“COVAX may be on track to deliver to all participating economies in the first half of the year yet we still face a daunting challenge as we seek to end the acute stage of the pandemic: we will only be safe when everybody is safe and our efforts to rapidly accelerate the volume of doses depend on the continued support of governments and vaccine manufacturers. As we continue with the largest and most rapid global vaccine rollout in history, this is no time for complacency.”
The WHO Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said: “COVAX has given the world the best way to ensure the fastest, most equitable rollout of safe and effective vaccines to all at-risk people in every country on the planet.
“If we are going to realise this great opportunity, countries, producers and the international system must come together to prioritise vaccine supply through COVAX. Our collective future, literally, depends on it.”
Approved Ibom Deep Sea Port, Proposed $1.4B Fertilizer Plant Will Change Akwa Ibom’s Economic Status – Gov. Udom
Akwa Ibom State Government has said the approved Ibom Deep Seaport and the proposed $1.4 billion Fertilizer and Ammonia Plant are expected to change the economic status of the state.
The State Governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel, made the assertion in an Easter message to the people of the state.
He maintained that with the recent approval and take off of the federal government’s approved Oil and Gas Free Zone and the ongoing construction of the Sterling Petrochemical Plant at Eastern Obolo, the state would be ready to dump its status as a civil service state.
The governor said the fertilizer and ammonia plants should be supported by all indegenes and residents irrespective of political affiliation because of its capacity to change the economic fortunes of the state.
The governor who commended President Muhammadu Buhari for approving the industrial projects in the state said construction work on the Ibom Deep Seaport would commence very soon.
“In recent past, we have been blessed with life-changing projects such as Sterling Petrochemical Plant in Eastern Obolo, where construction is in an advanced stage.
“Two months ago, the Federal Executive Council, (FEC) approved the license for us to commence the construction of our long desired Ibom Deep Seaport. Work would soon commence on this gigantic project. These are huge achievements for our State and our people.
“Ibom Deep Seaport will open up our economic fortunes; create employment and wealth opportunities for our people and throw open our State as a major maritime hub in our nation.
“We thank the President and the Commander in-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces, Muhammadu Buhari (GCFR) for this kind approval,” he said.
Continuing, Emmanuel said: “About three weeks ago, we signed a $1.4 billion Fertilizer and Ammonia plant with our Moroccan counterparts. The plant will again create huge employment and other supply chain activities for our people, which will transform us from a civil service oriented state to a fast industrialising one.
“These are huge achievements that should gladden the hearts of every Akwa Ibomite irrespective of political affiliations.”
He reminded the people of the state that the essence of Easter would be lost if the resurrection of Christ is not allowed to illuminate their souls through love and sacrifice to one another.
“Let the fishermen in the ocean fronts of Mbo, Okobo, Eastern Obolo and Ibeno love one another. Let the farmers in the rice plantations at Ini, Ikono, Ika, Onna and Nsit Ibom love one another.
“Let the civil servants and public servants, politicians in all political parties, members of all denominations, preachers of all faiths, love one another.
“When we let love drive our every action and every thought, when we let it drip from our lips and from our hands, then shall the joy of Easter be complete, and our State shall surely attain the lofty height set for it by our ancestors when they named it Akwa Abasi Ibom State.” the Governor stated.
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